Spyware and malware attacks are becoming much more aggressive than even just a few months ago. And your computer that is connected to the internet is vulnerable! So what can you do?

First of all, having antivirus and antispyware on your computer is NOT ENOUGH.

You must follow safe computing practices in order to avoid infection and transmission of harmful software.

We strongly recommend you follow these SAFE COMPUTING PRACTICES:

1. Don't open any chain emails or mass emailings.

If you do open one then don't forward such communications to others. Just hit delete!

2. Don't open any attachments from unverified sources.

That means DO NOT open any attachments that are unexpected. Just hit delete!

3. Don't install it!

Don't install any specialty applications found in Facebook and similar applications; don't click on any Twitter links. Ignore them!

4. Mac users are no longer safe.

Macs are no longer virus-free products - in many ways, they are more susceptible to malware/virus attacks than their Windows counterparts. Mac users, don't be complacent and make sure that you exercise safe computing, too!

5. Don't fall for fake Pop-ups

If a window pops up on your computer indicating that you have some sort of virus infection and that you should click on a link to scan your machine or download software, DO NOTHING! DO NOT CLICK ANYWHERE ON THE POP-UP WINDOW MESSAGE, DO NOT CLICK CANCEL, DO NOT CLOSE THE WINDOW. Interacting in any way this pop-up window can lead to the installation of password catches, key loggers, and all sorts of other terrible things on your computer. Instead, press Control+Alt+Delete on your keyboard and then end all applications listed in Window's Task Manager.

6. Don't get infected by infected websites

The worst attacks on the internet at this time get on your computer from infected Web sites - these may be perfectly legitimate sites that have been subverted by hackers.

By time you see a pop-up window you may already be infected. The worst of these infections tell you you're infected and may put up something that looks exactly like a Windows report. They will tell you to purchase a clean-up tool. And if you pay them, that's just the beginning of your problems. These infections are written by experts. They are extremely difficult to remove. Special tools and techniques are needed.

7. Always update windows and browsers immediately!

Make sure your Windows and Web Browser are updated with patches and fixes as soon as they come out. This is extremely important as these infections exploit flaws in Windows, Internet Explorer and other programs. The moment a patch comes out the bad guys analyze it for how to exploit the vulnerability it fixed - then write exploits to go after all the unpached computers out there. it takes them only 3 or 4 days.

8. Avoid Microsoft Internet Explorer

Use Mozilla FireFox, Opera, Chrome or Safari rather than Internet Explorer, as it is the most vulnerable Web browser.

9. Make Backups

Purchase an external hard drive and back up all your files to it regularly. Think of this hard drive as $100 insurance that comes in the form of a little black box.

10. Antivirus recommendations

Make sure you have a good antivirus program and it's always up-to-date. Windows includes a free built-in antivirus called Windows Defender (formerly known as Microsoft Security Essentials) which does a decent job.

We don't recommend the popular Norton or McAffee software. AVG or AVAST or even 360 is what we recommend to clients (the free versions usually suffice). Anti-virus programs can't stop everything out there, but at least they may be able to slow some things down - if they're up-to-date. And regular backups are still more important!

11. Antispyware recommendations

Make sure you have antispyware which is not exactly the same as antivirus software. We recommend Spybot Search & Destroy.

Need more advice? Contact Kahl Consultants or speak with your computer or IT expert.